The 2020 election resulted in a new group of aldermen who met Monday night for their first city council meeting of 2021. The meeting at the AUD was poorly attended by the public and even more poorly heated by the city with aldermen wearing coats and scarves.
Mayor Butch Berry asked which two aldermen would like to be considered to serve on the City Advertising and Promotion Commission. Five of the six aldermen raised their hands, with newly elected alderman LauraJo Smole the only one to decline.
Alderman Harry Meyer nominated Melissa Greene, but alderman Terry McClung, who served on the CAPC for the last two years, told the mayor he did not think it was fair to handle the CAPC selection by the normal nomination procedure since so many people were vying for the appointment.
Berry took McClung’s advice and called for a vote, asking that each alderman sign and submit their vote to the Clerk for their choice of CAPC Position Five. Berry noted that no alderman could vote for themselves.
Alderman Bill Ott asked if there would be a possibility for council to discuss credentials of those wanting to serve before taking a vote, and Berry responded, “Well, Bill, I think most of us probably know. I mean no offense, but I think all of us pretty well know each other—small town.”
Result of the first vote was two for Greene, two for Meyer, one for Ott, one for McClung. Berry decided to have a re-vote, but this time only for the top two: Greene and Meyer. The second vote produced a tie, three votes for Meyer and three for Greene. Berry broke the tie by voting for Greene to hold position five.
The mayor repeated this for position six, this time saying there would be no votes for Greene. Results were three for Meyer, one for McClung, one for Ott and one for Autumn Slane. Berry ordered an immediate revote, citing that no one received four votes. Results were the same, and the mayor voted for Meyer, giving him four votes and appointment to position six.
With CAPC seats determined, council agreed to use Robert’s Rules of Order for meeting procedures in 2021, and agreed to continue meeting the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m.
McClung was chosen as Chair pro tempore, and Resolution #791 was unanimously approved to set a public hearing on Feb. 8 to vacate an alley of Lot Four Block Three of the Freeman Addition.
Budget resolution #790 was briefly discussed and unanimously approved with no changes since it was introduced by City Finance Director Lonnie Clark in late 2020. Due to the pandemic, Clark cut the 2020 budget midyear, and his prediction for 2021 was similarly conservative, as he stated he cut the new budget another five percent before submitting it.
Clark predicts $9,689,110 in annual revenue for 2021, down from $11,241,510 at the beginning of 2020, which is a $1.5 million cut, or 13.8 percent decrease in expected revenue. Despite the loss in revenue, Clark said that he was proud that no city employees were laid off during the year. He recognized that employees deserve a cost of living adjustment, but said no raises or COLAs were allocated in the 2021 budget.
Smole added an agenda item for the next meeting to discuss the installation of electric charging stations in a city parking lot. No other items were provided.
In a mayoral proclamation Berry recognized January 19, 2021 as the national day of racial healing. Berry cited Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s request for municipality support in ensuring the best quality of life for children of all races. Berry gave appreciation to Eureka Springs public schools and called on all citizens to help create a more just and equitable Eureka Springs.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in the AUD.